Work safety

Safety Update – February 2020

Regardless of the type of work you do, there are always considerations to make when completing your day-to-day tasks and managing those who may work for and with you. Here's a wrap of safety notices for the month of February.

Reported Incidents

Worksafe Victoria have released their construction industry Reported Incident statistics for January. There were 112 incidents in total. Of these the highest injury category continues to be Lacerations at 28%. There is a simple way to reduce this injury and that is by using the correct PPE. Gloves, boots and long pants/shirts will help prevent laceration type injuries and the corresponding down time that follows.

Safety Update – February 2020

Trenching

Worksafe are about to embark on a Trenching Campaign on the back of recent fatalities.  The campaign will feature TV/Radio/Media ads and a blitz on site. Click on the following link to access the Worksafe - Excavation Compliance Code to access practical guidance to help you meet your obligations under the OHS Act and Part 5.1 of the OHS Regulations.

It is also important to be aware that an engulfment is still possible with trenches less than 1.5m. Take a moment to look at the soil conditions and perform a quick risk assessment. If the angle of repose looks to be quite shallow, then the risk of engulfment increases and suitable control measures should be put in place, such as shoring or benching for a trench that may be only 1m deep.

New Compliance Code: Managing exposure to crystalline silica – Engineered Stone

The code is effective from Tuesday 11 February 2020.

The code provides practical guidance on how to comply with obligations under Victoria’s occupational health and safety legislation when manufacturing, supplying or working with engineered stone including compliance for:

  • the new Part 4.5 - Crystalline Silica of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) that was implemented in August 2019 to prohibit the uncontrolled use of power tools on engineered stone
  • Part 4.1 - Hazardous substances of the OHS Regulations
  • general duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) for employers and for manufacturers and suppliers of engineered stone.

It also includes information on:

  • the health risks of working with engineered stone
  • which duties apply to working with engineered stone
  • duties for manufacturers, importing suppliers and suppliers of engineered stone
  • the respirable crystalline silica exposure standard
  • air monitoring requirements
  • the prohibition on the uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone
  • how to control the risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica
  • respiratory protective equipment
  • clean up and decontamination
  • when health monitoring is required and what it involves.

The code can also be downloaded from the WorkSafe website or by clicking on the following link:

Compliance code: Managing exposure to crystalline silica - engineered stone

Workwell

Worksafe’s Workwell site is now available for construction workers to help prevent mental health issues and get on top of claims. Click here to access the site.

HRWL - Dogging and Rigging

There has been some confusion lately as to when a HRWL is required in regard to standard lifts and using earthmoving equipment as a crane.

The OHS Regulations 2017, Schedule 3-High risk work license classes states that a Dogging License is required to perform dogging work. Dogging work means one or both of the following-

  1. the application of slinging techniques, including the selection or inspection of lifting gear, to sling a load;
  2. the directing of a crane or hoist operator in the movement of a load when the load is out of the operator’s view;

The issue of who requires a HRWL has been referred to a working group under the guidance of the Foundations for Safety Steering Committee. Master Plumbers will be represented in this workgroup and a time frame of 12months has been set to review draft guidance.

Industrial Manslaughter

The Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 passed Parliament on 26 November 2019 and comes into effect on 1 July 2020

In realty this prosecution would only apply in the most egregious of cases where all of the following elements of the offence are proven:

  • the accused is a body corporate or a person who is not an employee or volunteer
  • the accused owed the victim a duty of care pursuant to sections 21 to 24 or sections 26 to 31 of the OHS Act (this includes duties owed to employees, contractors and members of the public) (applicable duties)
  • the accused breached that duty by criminal negligence in circumstances where there was a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness
  • the act that breached the duty of care was committed consciously and voluntarily
  • the accused’s breach of the duty causes the victim’s death.

Master Plumbers is maintaining an advocacy position against federal government moves to introduce prohibition on being able to insure against, not only the penalty but also the cost of representation in defending any action. It is our position on behalf of the membership that insurance to cover an adequate defence is available for other criminal matters that Directors and Officers of companies may face, and that this matter shouldn’t be any different. The Master Plumbers Marsh policy for D & O insurance is likely to cover the costs of mounting a defence in the event of any prosecution.

It is understood that there is an unfounded belief that if companies can insure against this risk then they are less likely to take safety seriously to prevent incidents. It is our position that the ability to obtain insurance is in fact likely to have the reverse effect via standards imposed by insurers.

Employers and companies are encouraged to focus heavily on worker engagement and ensure that there is a strong safety culture in place to prevent serious injury and death. In addition, Master Plumbers has an audit service where we can audit your operation against the legislative requirements and ensure your safety policies and system have been effectively implemented within your company.

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